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Dorothy Bohm: Seeing And Feeling

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Start Date:30th July 2012
End Date:29th September 2012
Dorothy Bohm: Seeing And Feeling

An undisputed doyenne of British photography, Dorothy Bohm has been taking pictures for over 70 years. She is one of the most productive and versatile photographers active today, with examples of her work held in public and private collections worldwide. She has published fourteen books and has had numerous one-woman exhibitions. At the age of 88, her enthusiasm for taking pictures continues unabated.

Bohm came to England from Lithuania in 1939 as a girl of fourteen to escape the threat of Nazism. She finished her schooling in Sussex and then studied photography at the Manchester College of Technology. She opened her own photographic studio in Manchester at the age of 21, soon making a name for herself as a portrait photographer.

Frequent visits to the Swiss Lakes soon after the war stimulated her interest in outdoor photography. Impressed by the different quality of light and encouraged by a number of well-known painters and sculptors, she soon exchanged studio portraiture for images of the human figure in its infinite diversity and in its natural environment.

A year in Paris followed in the mid’ fifties where, again encouraged by artist friends, she photographed intensively. She continued to travel widely, photographing in many countries and many continents.

In the early 1980s, encouraged by Andre Kertesz, Dorothy Bohm began experimenting with colour polaroids and found that she no longer wished to photograph in black and white. While her work continued to express her profoundly humane approach to the world, colour gave her the means to pursue her fascination with reflections and surfaces, allowing for a witty exploration of spatial ambiguity, even occasionally verging on abstraction.

In all her pictures she encapsulates the essence of everyday life, deeply aware of the vulnerability of human existence, happiness that passes, beauty that fades or goes unnoticed. As Sir Roland Penrose wrote in his introduction to her first book, “Dorothy Bohm knows that her camera does not only see, it also feels. It caresses the rough surfaces of plastered walls and cobblestones, it gently strokes the bloom of a girl’s cheek, it penetrates into the intimacy of a shadow”.

The colour and black and white prints in the current exhibition are drawn from A World Observed, the first comprehensive retrospective of Dorothy Bohm’s work, which was a major hit at Manchester Art Gallery in 2010, and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich, in 2011. They are supplemented by a substantial number of the jewel-like polaroids she took between 1980 and 1982. The show coincides with Another London, a major exhibition being held at Tate Britain (27 July-16 September), which includes a selection of her work, and anticipates her solo exhibition Women in Focus at the Museum of London, which opens in November.

Venue Map

Address:63 Margaret Street
London
W1W 8SW
United Kingdom

Images from Dorothy Bohm: Seeing And Feeling

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